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Are the Marlins a legitimate contender?

The Marlins begin the day one game out of first in the National League East. But their staying power near the top of the standings has had more to do with the mediocrity that permeates the division than it does with any great success on their part.

These were the NL East standings to start the day on May 9, the last time Jose Fernandez would take the mound for the Marlins:

Miami            20-15        --

Washington    19-15        .5

Atlanta          18-15       1.0

New York       16-17       3.0

Philadelphia   15-18       4.0

Counting the Marlins' loss in San Diego on that fateful night at Petco Park, their record since has been 15-19. But their division rivals have been puttering along, too. The Nationals have gone 16-18 since then. The Mets (15-22) and Phillies (15-20) are also staggering. Only the Braves have managed to play .500 ball -- but exactly .500 with an 18-18 mark.

"I wouldn't say anything's mediocre about any of those teams, including us," said manager Mike Redmond. "But nobody's been able to take that big streak. This year it seems like everybody's a couple or three games over .500, then they'll lose three or four in a row, and kind of allow everybody to stay in. For us, it's great being that we've gone through this spell where we haven't really played that great (and are still in it). I think we're waiting to get hot."

So the question becomes, are the Marlins really a playoff caliber team? Or is their relative success a mirage waiting to disappear the moment some other team in the division finally gets going and takes off?

Open for discussion....

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Jake Marisnick singled twice, walked and stole two bases in his first game up on Monday, after which manager Mike Redmond said he felt a little like a kid waking up on Christmas. Or something to similar to that feeling, anyhow.

"It kind of feels like a new toy out there," Redmond said. "He brings that weapon, being able to steal a base. We don't have a lot of speed. (But) he's a guy that can raelly change a game with his legs. It's fun to watch. He's aggressive and he's not scared, and I think you saw that in the way he played tonight."

The only other time this season that a Marlins has stolen at least two bases in a game was on June 6 at Wrigley Field when Christian Yelich swiped a pair. The Marlins rank last in the NL in stolen bases with 23.

__________________

Extra-inning games and brief outings by Marlins starters have conspired to tax the bullpen during the homestand. Marlins relievers have been required to cover 23 1/3 innings during the four games, or more innings (21 2/3) than the starters have provided during the stretch.

Of course, it doesn't help matters that the Marlins have had to play three extra-inning games during that span, including a pair of 13-inning marathons. But the starters of late, outside of Henderson Alvarez, haven't been logging their fair share of the load, either.

"I think our bullpen, for the most part, has done a really nice job, eating up a lot of innings," Redmond said. "We're eating up a ton of innings."

Bryan Morris has been a positive addition to the pen. Morris, obtained in that Pirates deal for a draft pick, has delivered 9 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball for the Marlins since joining the team.

But the heavy useage in recent days has left the Marlins thin in the pen for tonight's game. "We definitely have some guys down there we'd like to stay away from," Redmond said. "We're beat up down there."

Redmond said Sam Dyson and Jacob Turner are available tonight. But, beyond that.....Redmond said rookie starter Anthony DeSclafani needs to pitch deep.

__________________

Have you noticed Chris Hatcher's numbers his past few outings? He's striking out everything in sight. In fact, he has established a new Marlins record. Of the last 13 outs he has recorded, 12 have been whiffs. No Marlins pitcher had ever done that before over any 13-out span, according to the good folks at the Elias Sports Bureau.

"I'm throwing the ball down," Hatcher said. "Once you get the ball down, other pitches become a big asset. Guys don't know what to look for. I feel like I'm pitching more like I do in the minors. It also goes back to a trust thing, having at least two pitches (fastball and splitter) you know you can throw for strikes. When you have the confidence that can throw two pitches for strikes, that confidence builds into a third pitch."

Hatcher doesn't consider himself a strikeout pitcher. But they're still coming in bunches for him.

"If you look at the run I've had right now, it's 1-2, 0-2 on every at bat," Hatcher said. "So you've got your foot on the gas and they don't know what you're doing. When you put the pressure on the hitter, it changes big time."

__________________

Everyone was still talking on Tuesday about Giancarlo Stanton's opposite-field line drive home run the night before. Redmond said it was the hardest ball he's ever seen hit, eclipsing a Gary Sheffield rocket off Antonio Alfonseca back in his playing days.

But perhaps no one was more impressed with it than the one person who is hardest of all to impress with his shots: Stanton himself.

"I was tring to hit a line drive to second base and even when I hit it, I was like, all right, cool, I've got an RBI and I'll be on second," said Stanton, who thought the ball would hit the wall in the corner. "And then it stayed up. That's probably the most surprising home run I've ever hit, at least in terms of the home run being the last thing on my mind for the at bat and after I hit it, I thought I got the job done."

The ball was never more than 20-25 feet above the ground at any point and maintained a relatively straight trajectory from the time it left his bat until it struck a railing and kept on going after clearing the wall. If you haven't seen it, check it out:

Comments

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Lou Vales

NO!!!! Too many BLACK HOLES!!! in the lineup. If Mathis is allowed to strand runners at a near historic pace they can not be taken seriously. Man strikes out in 45% of his AB's and he has as many RBI's as Realmuto--that is not good. There are also a couple of guys----obviously not Casey---who have really good RBI numbers but I will be damned if I can remember many of them being in a LATE game CLUTCH situation. We do NOT hit good pitchers late and many times do not hit mediocre pitchers late.

Lou Vales

By the way, Fredo Gonzalez has struck again and Dvid Carpenter has gone on DL.Fredo is a LUNATIC!!!

Lou Vales

I apologize. There is no reason for it. It's all on me but when I see Mike Redmond walking out to make a pitching change, with his mouth open, and when he gives a contorted gesture to bring in the right hander, when there is only one guy warming up, I get the same feeling every time--"What the Hell?" The guys on this team may play for him,however, I always get the feeling it is because they feel sorry for him, as one would feel about an aging PE teacher.

Seth

Been saying it since the beginning of the season...This team is special. They will win the World Series.

Lou Vales

Seth, I trust you have already made your way to Vegas, Reno or Atlantic City and made that bet. Since you believe that so fervently PLEASE make some astronomical amount of money by placing the bet.

Lou Vales

Any Marlins STILL chewing tobacco?? I have an alternative. Put a bag over your head and cross I-95 during rush hour. It will be a lot less painful, quicker and you can save family prolonged agony of watching you die. Of course you could quit but you guys are tough jocks so just keep chewing way with the knowledge you ain't as tough as the Big C!! Watching your jaw and mouth disappear is no fun but nobody is going to tell you what to do.Have a Nice day!!

Marlin Fan

Nice game tonight . Like how the fish kept battling . Mark this day down , jones had a meaningful clutch hit that turned out to be the game winner. How many times are we going to be able to say that ?? Marisnick keeps on hitting . Desclafani didn't pitch poorly tonight , at least he went 6 plus and kept them in the game . Not sure why Dyson was brought in a tie game after his call up , when Morris was available .

hayu

Because Dyson was the only Fish reliever who hadn't gotten a strenuous workout the night before, so the smart move was to go with the fresh arm.

Juan Yanes

People exaggerate fear for Marlins bullpen lot of job; it is not real, their are young guys who recovery very soon, go ahead Marlins

A Realist

I'll rip anyone who doesn't deserve praise and I have done it frequently to Garrett Jones. Well, he finally got a hit that mattered. Not a homerun with the game out of hand, but a homerun to put us on top for good. Finally!!

Giancarlo's strike out in the 1st inning was the very reason I get down on him so much. How unintellectual are you?? With a man on 1st and 2nd with no outs and ahead in the count 2-0, he swings at a ball that almost landed in the Cubs dugout! What are you doing? You know behind in the count with men on base they aren't going to give you anything decent to hit. They never give you much to hit, dude. Think for once!!! I told my girlfriend that after that mistake he was going to strike out and sure enough he did (She rolled her eyes at me. Love you, babe). That allowed that inning to slip away with more runs left on the bases. Stupid plays like that are so deflating. We're fortunate Jones bailed us out.

Happy for DeSclafani. He didn't deserve to be sent down after his last call up. This organization does things according to prewritten rules instead of managing the players they have and according to the situation they are curently in. Case and point; bringing in Wolf. Good for you, Anthony. Shove it in their pie-holes.

Surprised by Hech last night. Not used to seeing him go off like that.

McGehee deserves to be in the All-Star game in addition to Stanton. So does Cishek.

Lou Vales

I just watched Mathis leave another man on 3rd with less than 2 outs and have come to the conclusion while Saltalamacchia is hurt that Mathis is the worst catcher--hitting wise--in MLB. Anyone have an alternative choice?

Flav C.

Have you tried Molina, A.J. Ellis, John Baker, David Ross, Laird, and Hundley? Plenty of alternative choices. And some of those guys have a lot more at-bats than Mathis.

Flav C.

And when I wrote Molina, I obviously meant Jose, not Yadier.

flagstaffishfan

For every pitcher in the league. Stanton with a 3-2 count....down and away with junk = K. Not sure when Giancarlo will learn but I too have to question his smarts. And as well how much if you're the Marlins to you pay him for a long term deal? What's he actually worth? He definitely is fun to watch launch HR's and he fills the stands. He appears to be a good guy as well with his interaction with fans but again how much and how long do you sign him?? No doubt he is young and I would hope he'll learn to take the walk but it's pretty obvious on how to get him out.

Flav C.

And just on queue, 6th inning. That's when 99% of the Marlins starting pitchers have their meltdown.

Lou Vales

Bottom of the 4th, man on 3rd and 2 outs. Cubs bench signals for an intentional walk to Mathis, pitcher stares into dugout, itching coach trots out and pitcher in so many words says--"Are you NUTS? Let me pitch to Mathis, Evoldi might run into one", pitcher wins argument and Mathis grounds meekly to SS and remains stuck on 5 ribbies.

Lou Vales

ANYONE, please explain the persistence in taking pitches belt high down the middle and then the inevitability of chasing breaking ball out of the zone? ANYONE!!!!! I know they have video rooms ergo it is not as if they don't know what they are consistently doing So why???? PLEASE!!!!

MDX

Looks like Koehler and Eovaldi can't pitch more than 5 innings without falling apart. Let's hope the Heaney kid can give us something. And finally, just let Turner get lost.

tom from dlray

81-81 This year and Stanton heads o Yankees in about
2 years...

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